Pay for all rates

What about a duckboat tour boat Captain (maybe the 2nd most dangerous job on water and shore). :slight_smile:

The Filipino CM on a bulker moored across from mine ten years ago discharging at the same pier told ours he made $5,000 a month.

Granted — bulker and probably a shitty outfit but still. If that’s the low end, I believe what you said x10.

I make $43/hr straight time for an 8 hour day and ($73/hr plus $345/day for weekends and holidays ).
My point is I had to do the 3rds job because we were short 1 engineer. I had to teach wipers how to fix vacuum toilets because we had no QMEDs, Engine Utility, or experienced engine help. All wipers were new hires being paid $12 straight 20 OT.

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Most US flag ships I encounter are sailing short these days or have a good number have new grads sailing as rates (not the worst thing in the world) while collecting 3/m pay. On more than one occasion a ships voyage has been paused to await personnel to fill the COI. One has to figure this will work itself out eventually, either with more pay or creative crewing.

I’d like to give my two cents on shoreside roles too. I work for a foreign-flag shipowner in the USA. As a senior superintendent my salary is $96,000/year and bonus of $10-12,000 annually. The requirements for the position when I was hired was minimum 5 years as Chief Engineer, 15 years as senior officer in total. Experience as Chief for minimum two drydockings, and of course sailing experience on bulk ships. This job is like many foreign companies with one person handling engineering and marine needs (Port Engineer and Port Captain in one). I know my salary is low but it did not bother me until inflation hit. Yes, you can argue that I am home most nights and that justifies a lower salary compared to sailing, which I do not disagree with. But when companies demand Chief/Master level experience, the pay must compensate for this knowledge. I do not expect $200K a year. That said, I manage five ships, all drydockings every 2.5 years, and spend approx 25% of the year away from home on ship visits and shipyard periods. Crowley pays Port Engineers a pittance yet they want Chief experience.

When I worked on the ships it was routine to joke about “the office” but I will say I have a new appreciation after four years in this role. I am answering emails by 0600, in the office from 0800-1800 daily (often until 2000 or later), still on emails periodically through the evening and of course many calls with the ships daily, generally in the evening. Weekends are a little lighter, but 4-6 hours work on Saturday and Sunday is normal. I could trim this back, but the work never ends and it would only hurt the crews on my ships because they are not getting the answers/supplies/assistance they need to do their jobs. I worked with many superintendents that just didn’t care and it affected the ships greatly.

To add to the conversation on shipboard pay, our Ukrainian officers are well paid, Masters $15K/month, Chiefs $14K, even the Filipino AB’s earn $3,600/month. Work hours are 0800-1700 daily, half days on Sunday if at sea. Holidays are off completely unless watch standing. OT is available in port. OT is hourly but main work hours are salary. Remember, these guys do not live in the USA. Most live in very comfortable houses and have a good lifestyle. Everyone wishes they were always paid more, but our crews are happy. And a happy crew makes life easier for the superintendent. That is how I look at it…anything I can do to make life easier for the crew, whether it’s buying spares, giving a little extra for provisions, or anything else reasonable, it all comes back to keeping people happy which is sufficient on its own, but it also makes for less stress on my part.

It is difficult to get a younger person to take a job on a ship for $100K/year. Combine this with basically no reasonable pension at AMO for anyone with less than 10 years and it is no wonder why people are not interested in sailing. Kids aren’t stupid - I’ve spoken with many that don’t even consider AMO because they know it’s a raw deal for a fresh 3rd mate or engineer. $200K/year as Chief with pension credits at 20 years in is respectable, but young people give up a lot to get to that point in their career. The apple cannot be miles in the distance…there needs to be some tangible reward always in sight. That can mean different things to different people - more money, shorter rotations, promotion opportunities, good ships - but in the end it comes down to being satisfied with your job. Salaries alone are not the answer, but a good salary commensurate with the experience, responsibility, and lifestyle requirements can convince people it’s worth it.

Crowley just got wifi recently…c’mon, it’s 2022. My company installed wifi on their ships back in 2012-2013 and it’s available to all with no limitations. Guys can call home as often as they want. It’s not a perk, it’s a necessity. We have a 96% retention rate of crew and many of them cite the wifi access as a reason they stay. Many will disagree with this but it’s a fact of life. When I sailed, most of the guys that complained about having wifi had a terrible home life so they were happy to escape reality and be disconnected. Most of us however value being able to talk with our spouse, kids, even friends in a means to maintain some level of normalcy.


Sounds like MSC to me. $12/hr is absolutely crazy to leave your home and family for 4-6months. It’s not worth regardless of how much overtime you get.

Working overtime is extra of your life youll never get back and it’s no way a compensation for poor pay.

Entry level pay for the maritime industry feels like a sucker punch in the balls for newbies. Wipers especially deserve much better pay considering the risk of the job.


We are paying $300 to $400 a day for OS. No overtime. They are hard to find.


I would think with your skills and experience there is a non-shipping industry, engineering sales, or facilities plant type job with less travel that pays more. But it also may depend where you geographically live.

Are those Ukrainian officer rates you quoted for the months they work only? No pay while on vacation, I assume? I was briefly with a Union and now a private company deep sea. I think the private company total compensation is much better. I have felt no less protected for not being part of a union in my situation. Retirement dollars vested very quickly, so there was an incentive to hold on 3 plus years and then you could see it continue to grow.

All that said. I’m not an economist, but expect if you took most deep sea sailing positions and compared a 1995 salary for 6 months work to the same salary for 6 months work today, that todays salary is not as impressive as to where it puts you on the income charts. It is unfortunate to be well established in an industry and not want to leave it, but wonder if your time is more valuable somewhere else.

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I was a Master/OIM up until 2017, at the time, pay was decent, down from the high’s of the 2010-2014’s. Came ashore in 2017, now I make more than I ever did per year in Business Development and Strategy as an Executive than I did as a Master/OIM during the good times when you had pay + retention + performance + stock.

It will all depend on what you want to do, whether you are also willing to go back and get a Masters degree in another form (other than Maritime). Plus it depends sometimes on luck and knowing the right people. Shoreside pay has definitely out grown offshore/shipping pay in most forms.

Yes, the salaries noted are for time on board only. The Ukrainians work 3-4 month contracts for senior officers, 6 months for juniors. The Filipinos want to live on board and we almost have to pry them off the ship at 11 months, though some do 6 month on/off contracts.

I also worked for companies when sailing that paid flat salary, either once a month or twice a month, but year-round. They had a formula to calculate days worked per year and compensated more/less in December to account for the days basis 180 +/- 10 days. Some years you came ahead, others the December pay was a little less, but it was always fair and matched the days worked (and traveled to/from the ship, attended training, etc). This was working 90 day contracts. It did give some feeling of belonging to the company, not just a worker who is paid when on board. I believe it helped with retention too - we felt like we worked for the company, not a union.

Whether true or not, I remember a QMED telling me once he was paid $10-11/hour in the late 1970’s. In the early 2000’s he was paid $18/hour. Not exactly a great year-over-year increase.

There is a plethora of jobs available for recent engineering grads who pay six figures. For many years the maritime schools also pitched the idea that their degree would be valuable in many fields, not limited to sailing. And that is not a bad thing…the quality of education from a maritime school is equal or greater than many engineering colleges. You want to attend an academy but have no intention to sail? That’s okay with me, it’s your decision and your life. As long as you are paying the tuition, it should not matter what is the end goal.

At the end of the day, if we want to entice younger people to work at sea, a six-figure salary for junior officers is no longer a decisive selling point. Unlicensed crew should earn minimum $75,000 for 6 months work. Minimum. I worked unlicensed for a while and I don’t see the black and white distinction between officers and crew like some do…we all work to earn a living. Nobody can convince me some of the nasty jobs wipers or OS’s do is worth $200/day.


Still in oil and gas or a different industry?

I moved over into emerging technology in maritime (working with emissions/ghg reduction)

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Man, any way to get you to pm me? I have loads of quality os and wipers that are hungry for career advancement that have got caught in the whirlpool of shitty management. Right where they want them, forcibly retained employees. I’d love to be able to point these guys in a direction to allow them to get there head’s out from underwater and get to swimming.

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An accurate mariner compensation index would be a great tool for all of us to reference, in comparing our current and prospective employment. If the data was gathered and held confidentially by the collector (union contract, pay stub, benefit details and costs, retirement, position, schedules, holidays, travel, schooling, etc…), I think it could be done with some accuracy. It could also be broken down by sector, geography, and position. Only publishing verified info would eliminate some of the bs that’s typical in our field.

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For another perspective.

Another thing that needs to be considered when comparing pay among countries is many countries exempt mariners from income tax after a certain amount of time away from home. This can make a big difference. Filipinos are 100% exempt according to the website.

Filipinos are exempt from income tax as are Indians (after 180 days out of the country from April to April yearly). Ukrainians also are exempt. To my knowledge, only the USA taxes seafarer’s income without exception. Even the UK and other European countries offer some exemptions. This is fine with me as salaries on US flag ships are higher, but makes for some hard feelings when Americans are paid the same on a foreign ship, same as other nationalities, because it’s like a pay gap, taxed vs. not taxed.

But it’s a moot point because there is a better chance of increasing salaries compared to trying to make income from sailing exempt. Imagine trying to convince the IRS of this…

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Americans been getting boned by their government in that regard since 1913.


Are they really? 180 days a year is what many US sailors work. Assuming the payroll tax of US sailors at 30%+.
Filipinos filing a 1703 form and sailing for over 6 months are 100% exempt from taxes, many other nationalities enjoy the more or less the same benefit. They support their mariners.
Maritime pay is leveling out. Soon everyone working on ships in international trade will be on about the same overall compensation which is the goal of neo-liberalism.


Who’s “we”?

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James Oberstar unsuccessfully pushed for the 180 day tax exemption for merchant seamen when he was in Congress.